I stayed at the Domaine in the first week of September this year with my wife and two kids, who were 2 1/2 yrs and 5 months old at the time. Both the Domaine and Bratome are beautiful and we had a perfect week there in the middle of a two week trip around France.
All in all the combination of having a whole house to ourselves, but with some on site facilities if you can’t be bothered to cook/pour your own glass of wine worked brilliantly for us. Likewise the grounds in the Domaine, and its pool, toy room, dvd library etc mean that we could spend a couple of relaxing days without going to far, in between days out in Brantome or nearby villages etc.
This was our second long family holiday, and first time self catering. Last year we went on a package holiday to Cyprus with first choice... really not up our street at all! We were a little clueless about what you are meant to do for a family holiday. We felt this was a holiday that's good for both us and the kids, as well as being vaguely interesting, and we left feeling like we’d seen a new part of the world that we hadn’t seen before (rather than just the inside of an English speaking hotel!).
Also, we'd been turned off by the idea of going to France/Europe in general 'pre-kids'. No idea why, I think it just seemed less appealing that further flung places. Brantome and the Dordogne region are fantastic, with lovely scenery and never ending beautiful villages and Chateaus. We had great days wandering around villages, including at least three days in Brantome, as well as going off piste a bit a finding a picinic spots for lunch (one great one near Chateaux Jumilhac, next to a stream, great for paddling).
The Domaine itself is set in some quite extensive grounds, with the 20-30 self catering houses in one corner, the hotel and bar/restaurant etc in another corner and lots of open space with an outdoor pool. The houses are mostly terraced, and fairly close together, but we barely heard our neighbours. It’s a slight blessing if you have kids (older than ours), as they should be able run around outside and play with the other kids whilst still being in view from your house.
Our house was a 3 bed house over three floors, with the 3rd bed being more of a mezzanine space with a ladder - we didn’t use that, nor did we plan to. The house is pretty well finished, and is only a few years old and has all mod cons - washing machine, dishwasher, tv & dvd etc. I'm sure you won’t be coming on holiday to watch telly, but just in case, I'd only come here if you love the bbc world news channel, and don’t mind that the picture looks like it’s being broadcast from a cave...
Our only gripe, although this may be perhaps due to our inexperience of going self-catering, was the policy that you had to leave the house immaculately clean. We weren’t expecting that, and would have liked that to be included in the price of the rental. Not a big deal though. They can clean if for you for a charge (about 40 quid from memory), and if I was going again I’d factor this in and look to pay the extra when booking. If this is the norm for self-catering please ignore! Also, our bed was very comfortable but probably the creakiest bed in the northern hemisphere, so we often woke up when one of us rolled over.
Helen, the proprietor, is a lovely Irish lady, who ran the hotel and restaurant part of the Domaine very well while we were there, with the chef and maid. The bar/restaurant is a nice place to hang out and is actually quite reasonably priced, with some local wine and quite tasty home cooked food produced by the chef. My wife's a veggie, which often causes problems in France – on one night there wasn’t anything veggie on the menu, so the chef rustled up a veggie dish for her, which was a nice touch.
For the kids there is a toy room, from which you can borrow a couple of toys to take back to your house, a dvd library with all sorts of kids (and grown up) movies, the outdoor pool, and some outdoor toys and a swing/slide set.
There is a lovely walk along footpaths and country lanes into Brantome which takes 15-30 minutes depending on how slow you are. We have a Phil&Teds (3-wheeled ‘sports’ buggy), which could manage some of the more bumpy parts of the path ok, but not sure a standard buggy would fare so well. On the walk you pass loads of fig trees, walnut trees, berry bushes, some fresh mint, and even a wild tomato plant. One night we made a salad out of all the food we’d foraged – yummy!
No matter how amazing it was, we don’t go on the same holiday twice – there’s too much to see in the world for that – but we would recommend this to couples/families looking for a relaxing week away and dont fancy big hotels/resorts. You’ll need a car of course, but there’s plenty to do – we’d recommend at least a day or two in Brantome (especially market day, Friday), a trip to nearby St Jean de Cole and a Chateaux or two (we thought Chateaux Hautefort was the best out of the ones we visited). We will certainly be returning to other regions of France and will look for somewhere to stay just like the Domaine.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.